Brown, Whitman Clash Over Solving Economic Woes

DAVIS (AP) — Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman clashed Tuesday over remedies for the state’s teetering economy, using their first gubernatorial debate to draw sharp contrasts between their potential solutions for returning California’s luster.

Whitman said California has a government it can no longer afford and criticized Brown for being too cozy with public employee unions.

“I think we have one of the most dysfunctional governments. If we do not put Californians back to work and bring down our 12.4 percent unemployment rate, there is no way out of this fiscal mess,” she said.

Brown said Whitman’s approach of targeted tax cuts to improve the state’s economy will benefit only the rich and leave the working class and middle class behind. He said her approach was more of what he described as a failed economic model from the Bush era.

Both candidates criticized the failure of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature to pass a budget. They have set a record for the longest California has gone without a spending plan since the state started its fiscal year on July 1, unable to bridge a $19 billion deficit.

If elected governor, Brown said he would cut 15 to 20 percent of the governor’s budget and then ask the Legislature and state agencies to do the same.

“We can cut,” Brown said. They’re fooling around with a lot of fat.”

Tuesday’s hourlong debate at the University of California, Davis, is the first of three between the candidates.

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